Steamboats in the Movies
Universal Studios Prop Boat Enterprise in
Four for Texas

steamboat movies

In 1963 Warner Bros. rented the boat and filmed portions of FOUR FOR TEXAS on Universal's back lot "lake." There was a sequence where they transformed the boat from a neglected sternwheeler to this spic and span casino boat LA MAISON ROUGE, supposedly in Galveston, Texas. The two big stars of the movie were Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Here are two starboard views.

steamboat movies

The painting above was made to cross dissolve to the live action footage below. If you look closely the only human figure from the live action which is included in the painting is the deck hand at work on the sign board on the side of the pilot house. Whoever the artist was had to be an accomplished illustrator since the painting has that distinctive illustration style to it. Would be interesting to know if Universal preserved the art work or if it ended up in private hands.

old steamboats

As part of the storyline of FOUR FOR TEXAS the ENTERPRISE was transformed from the drab SULTANA to the elegant LA MAISON ROUGE. Nothing like paint, gingerbread and brass belts around the smokestacks to give a boat some pizzazz.


Universal's prop steamboat after Warner Bros.' art department added gingerbread along the edges of the roof of the pilot house and the "Texas" cabins behind it.

New "crowns" (a.k.a "feathers") were also added to the tops of both smokestacks by Warner Bros. which added immeasurably to the boat's character along with the gingerbread attached to the edges of the pilot house and roofs of the "texas" cabins. These modifications were a brilliant upgrade and made all the difference in the boat's appearance.

steamboat movies

The art department did a nice job freshening up the full sized prop from a neglected packet to the casino boat "La Maison Rouge," which in the screenplay is located in Galveston Bay off the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.

Seen above, the prop boat's pilot house "dolled up" in day and night shots in FOUR FOR TEXAS.


Dean Martin and the 3 Stooges in Four For Texas.


All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.